4th of July. It was a quiet 4th of July here in terms of family activity. My dad grilled hotdogs, and I got to see quite a few fireworks shows from my bedroom window… because various people on my cross-street and some of the other cul-de-sacs spent HUNDREDS of dollars on fireworks which they set off for probably 3 straight hours from 9:00 p.m. to midnight. Our poor cats were curled up in my mom’s closet because it sounded like we were being shelled. (My town does allow fireworks between certain hours on the 4th of July, but a lot of other towns don’t.)
Back to Work. Summer Quarter started this week, and I’m getting to tutor for the first time ever during the summer because everything is online. I’ve met with all of my students at least once now, and the first-week stuff that always comes up is getting ironed out.
For those who are wondering, we aren’t going to know if we’ll be back on-campus for Fall Quarter until August. I’d prefer to stay online because the COVID risk is still high here, and my family is still locked down really tightly, so I wouldn’t be able to work on campus. I also know that our college president is risk-averse, so I can’t see him putting the student body in danger.
John Rutter. If you know the music of John Rutter (English choral composer) at all, you’ll appreciate this parody of his work called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Rutter” by Pitchcraft. The best part: THEY’RE SINGING IT TO JOHN RUTTER!!!!!!!!!!!! (He loves it.)
/glares at Minion. I just went to go grab a couple of cartons of formula to feed the kid and prep tomorrow’s morning feed because doing it in the morning when I’m tired makes me want to cry. I get in the guest room (where we keep all the fun stuff) and notice a couple of cartons that had been on top of the boxes were on the floor. I picked them up and found them to be empty… WITH FANG MARKS IN THEM. My cat child had bitten them and they had leaked on the carpet.
I was not happy. Meanwhile, Mr. Black Paws is sprawled on the guest bed letting me know that he is magnificent and soft and cute. I told him that he is none of those things and is instead a VERY BAD CAT. (He is not sorry.)
Recommendation. If you are a bullet journal junkie, go check out Planning with Kay. She is delightful, features her house panther in her YouTube videos, and the community during her livestreams is amazing.
Yakima, Benton, and Franklin counties. All y’all in those three counties who are refusing to mask up are the source of many of the new COVID-19 cases. It’s the reason Governor Inslee has had to go visit you and make it a gross misdemeanor not to wear a mask in public in just your counties. I know you hate the governor, but your stupid partisan hatred is causing the rest of us to give up ICU and hospital beds to accommodate your patients. So, please grow the [insert word] up, and just wear a damn mask.
The western half of the state who already pays for all of your services
For anyone who doesn’t know, the Skagit County Chorale are local to me, and the choir’s cases are 10-20% of my county’s COVID-19 cases. The two women who died are connected to me through church friends.
Some beautiful music. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is our opening hymn for Sunday morning, and I found this beautiful version from the Spelman College Glee Club when I was searching for something to put my church’s Facebook page.
I can’t even with this… If you attempt to explain this away, you are a horrible human being and your voting privileges need to be revoked. Telling black people that they “need to learn about their history or go back to it” is racist as [insert expletive], and it shows that Trump doesn’t understand American history at all. The reason we want to rename places and take statues down is that the people did horrible things, and those things should not be glorified.
Also, if anyone is afraid that not having these statues will cause us to forget our history, I need to introduce you to an amazing thing called a “book”.
Weekend plans. Given the spike we’re having in COVID-19 cases right now in my area (which for us means that we’re up from no new cases for a week to 5+ new cases per day), a family gathering this weekend is OBVIOUSLY not happening. It will just be my household and we’ll have hot dogs for dinner on Saturday night. We’ll also see how much we get shelled by idiots playing with fireworks. (They are unfortunately legal on the 4th in my town during certain hours.) All the parades and events in my area are cancelled because the people in charge actually believe medical experts who are saying it’s a bad idea. (All those states who reopened early and have spikes in infection rates are proof of why the leadership needs to be listening.)
A sign of things to come.This makes two Republican candidates for governor who are having legal issues. (This is the other one.) I’m wondering who the GOP in Washington is going to try next, given that they seem to be attracting idiots.
The source of these Quick Takes. On Saturday afternoon, I was scrolling through Facebook and came across this picture:
I generally don’t share stuff from Occupy Democrats because while I agree with them a lot of the time and they are mostly accurate, they get really mean-spirited about things. (I will admit that my first thought when I saw the wording was that the way they worded it was a bit catty.)
However, this piqued my interest enough to fact-check it. I mean, did people *REALLY* want to do something as stupid as go near an active volcano?
A couple of important things to take away from the webinar. Steve Malone (the seismologist tracking Mount St. Helens at the time) made some points that were worth sharing.
He also made an interesting analogy with this picture here:
Scientists tend to have a lot of models and data types and inputs that they are using to try to figure out what is going on. Civil authorities who are having to make these decisions want a yes/no answer. It’s why governors who are putting their trust in scientists and medical authorities are not able to give a specific answer as to when things will go back to “normal”… especially since we are looking at an entirely new normal now!
Where I am seeing a parallel. Governor Dixy Lee Ray did sign an order to keep people out of the “red” and “blue” zones around the mountain, but she allowed Weyerhauser trucks in for logging purposes because logging was a big part of the economy. Among those killed in the eruption were members of at least one logging crew. Had it not been a Sunday when the mountain erupted, more logging crews would have been in the area, and the death toll would have been much higher. There was a volcanologist named David A. Johnston who was killed in one of the pyroclastic flows, and that was a bitter pill for the person for whom he was standing in and the UW researchers monitoring the volcano. (Johnston Ridge Observatory is named after him.)
There’s also kind of a sad story about a man named Harry R. Truman who refused to leave the lodge he owned on Spirit Lake. He became a folk hero of sorts because of it, and his body was never found. They think that he was killed in a pyroclastic flow and that his lodge and his body and his cats are all buried under something like 150 feet of ash. His attitude reminds me of some of the people protesting in states to get the economy reopened. I look at them and ask myself “why???” because what they’re doing is endangering themselves, but it’s their decision to put themselves in danger.
This kind of thing is why I’m getting so salty about those who are more concerned about the economy than actual human lives. We can take steps to put the economy back together, but we can’t bring people back from the dead. I’m hearing on my local news about states that have “reopened” reporting the highest COVID-19 case count ever for that specific day while I’m watching the curve flatten out in Washington and in my own county where we’re still sheltering-in-place. It’s a balancing act for sure, and it irritates me that some people are trying to make it into a simplistic issue because their situation is merely one of inconvenience.
A really cool story. There’s a photographer who goes to Goodwill and finds exposed film from old cameras to develop. She ended up finding some that had pictures of the Mount St. Helens eruption. Even cooler is that the grandson of the person who owned the camera now has pictures of himself with his parents and grandmother that he didn’t know existed.
1.) Both sides of my family are geology junkies. My maternal grandfather was a geology major before he had to leave college due to illness and World War II, and my paternal grandfather enjoyed the geology classes he took as general education credits. I have a cousin who majored in Geology and did graduate work in it (digging dinosaur bones in Montana and working with Jack Horner), and my parents both grew up getting roadside geology lectures from their fathers. As a result, we’re full of amateur geologists, especially on my mom’s side. (I think my mom’s family keeps the Roadside Geology publishers in business.)
2.) My entire family is from Oregon and Washington originally. This was a big deal.
3.) My mom went into labor with my twin brother and me as Mount St. Helens erupted. We were born 24 hours later. Twin births are often complicated, and mine was no exception. My brother was almost twice my size, and my heart stopped mid-birth. I required resuscitation and spent my first week of life at Stanford Children’s Hospital, 45 minutes away from my parents in San Jose, before being transferred back to Los Gatos Community Hospital for another two weeks to get bigger. My brother came home after three days. I came home after three weeks.
My family always makes jokes about Mount St. Helens and our birth. We have newspapers from Yakima from the day of our birth talking about all the ash falling. When we were 25 years old, my dad got some ash from the volcano and sent it to my brother and me. (Mine is sitting on the bookcase next to my desk.) My parents visited the volcanic monument that year and took a picture of themselves at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. My brother and I were photoshopped into the picture (along with their cats), and it was used as the Christmas picture that year. 🙂 Because of my connection to the mountain, I tend to geek out on documentaries on it at this time of year.
And yes, I did just turn 40 years old this week. 🙂 I had a quiet day, my dad made me one of my favorite meals, and my parents got me a carrot cake. We did candles and presents with my evil twin over Facebook messenger. It wasn’t what we usually do, but it was pretty fabulous.
Washington’s stay-at-home order is being extended until the 31st, which is reasonable as we were the first hotspot and we’ve seen our curve flattening in the right direction as a result of the order. I thought I would share what is keeping me functional right now because maybe it might help someone else who is having a hard time?
Posting mask selfies. I was originally doing it to snark about Mike Pence not wearing one at the Mayo Clinic, but it has gotten to just be fun now. Having had a COVID-19 test last weekend, I will *JOYFULLY* wear masks in public for the rest of my life to not have to go through that again. Yeah, my glasses fog up, but that is so much easier than being stuck in an isolation room or being intubated, not knowing if I would wake up from sedation alive. I also am happy to do it if it has even a remote shot of protecting others from getting infected. It’s not an imposition if it contributes to public health, and I fail to understand why people are being so pissy about companies like Costco requiring masks. There are a bunch of patterns online for even us who can’t sew, and it’s a craft you can make with kids, or you can google “masks for sale in [your area]” and give money to someone who might be using this to make ends meet right now.
Volunteering for my church. Even once the state is opened up again, I will probably still have to wait a few weeks to be able to join the folks at St. Paul’s again. This is why I’m really happy that I can help make Sunday worship happen for us on Zoom, and also help make our postponed “Lenten” book study possible.
Watching YouTube. My guilty pleasure is “Live PD”. I’m sorry to admit that I really do enjoy watching being tracked by K9 officers or tased. (My cousin, who is an ex-sheriff’s deputy up here, would be rolling his eyes at me.)
Working. I am thankfully blessed with a job I can do online, so I’m working with students ~12 hours a week. I don’t have any Accounting students for a change (it’s one of my specialties), but I have gotten lent out to the entire campus, so I am working in departments as diverse as Human Services (basically, social work) and GIS (Geographic Information Systems). The reason: I’m a Microsoft specialist, and I’m apparently good at working with English Language Learners. (I love my English learners fiercely. I’ve only had two students among them who haven’t been people I want as coworkers someday, and I’m continually blown away at how well they’re doing their classes in their second or third language.)
I also have an amazing boss and really fun co-tutors. Tutor-training meetings are actually pretty fun, even on Zoom.
Reading. I was trying to bring my Target cart up to $25 so an order of cleaning wipes would ship, and I added a mass-market paperback murder mystery that looked kind of nice to it to bump my order to the right amount. I ended up reading the book in one sitting and ordered the other seven in the series. I think that what I need to get me reading again is something brainless because my daily life requires a huge amount of serious thought.
Word in Washington is that our stay-at-home order is being extended, and we will find out how much longer tomorrow. (It was supposed to end on May 4th, but we’re not nearly ready to reopen the state according to Governor Inslee and the doctors, scientists, and public health people he is trusting to advise him.) It’s not great, but this was about saving lives, not my own personal happiness and convenience.
I didn’t know how I was going to deal with being home with my crankypants child for six weeks while trying to work… and it has worked out. Here are some things I’ve learned.
I’ve learned that teachers deserve to be paid two to three times what they earn. I mean, I had mad respect for Daniel’s teachers before as well as my teacher friends who are severely underpaid. Then, I watched the reaction of teachers in the room at Daniel’s IEP meeting when the announcement came down that schools were closed for six weeks. I then watched Daniel’s teacher work her tail off to find class management software to fit each one of her kids when it was announced that schools would be closed for the rest of the year. When my kiddo had a problem dealing with learning over Zoom (because autism = routines and places MUST remain constant), his teacher just hung out and played tablet games with him until he was used to it. She puts together a YouTube video for her kiddos to watch on school mornings so they can do calendar time and News 2 You together. I’ve seen teachers at other schools post “We Miss You” signs in the windows for kids to see when they come to pick up food for the day or go for walks, and the bilingual immersion program teachers got together to make a massive collage of them spelling out a message of love to their students in English and Spanish. Others have masked up and gone to visit students in their homes to troubleshoot laptop issues.
I am definitely making a contribution to his current teacher’s classroom next year, even though Daniel will be at a different school. She loves her kids like her own, and I’ve seen others in the district here who are the same way.
I’ve learned how to find the last commercially-available cleaning wipes. Granted, I did see the writing on the wall and grab a good supply from Amazon before everything disappeared from grocery stores, but I’ve also managed to find them on big box store websites as recently as LAST WEEK. (I swear… I got the last canisters available for shipment from Target before even their generic ones started being routed only to hospitals.) It has become a game for me.
I’ve learned how to facilitate worship on Facebook Live and Zoom. Since it will likely be a while before my church is back worshipping together and my governor isn’t exempting churches from the stay-at-home order, it’s good that I can at least use my gifts and talents to serve my congregation. We’ve gotten better at getting everything together with a few hiccups here and there (because keeping people muted appropriately can be like herding cats at times), but we’re making it work.
A benefit of having worship online is that we are making it accessible for shut-ins. Even when we can all come back to worshipping in person, we at least have a way to also put it online that we didn’t have before. I have some amazing people working with me on this, and I definitely know this will be a good thing for me as I have been that shut-in person several times in the past.
I’ve learned ways to get my needs met. Want food from your favorite local restaurant? Look online to see if they are registered with a delivery service. (We have a really good local one called Munchie Dude.) Need a cloth mask? Put out a Facebook message letting people know your need and maybe someone you know is making them for income or will make one for free. (I just went to Etsy so that my church ladies could focus on making them for nursing home. When I found out about a parishioner selling them, I put out the word that she makes them.) Have a Starbucks addiction? See if there’s a local drive-thru one. (Yes, I have an addiction. Shut up!)
I’ve learned how to survive being stuck around people. My parents and I are all introverts, but my dad and I like to leave the house on occasion. Because we’re all high-risk, trips are limited to grocery shopping (once a week per person), Starbucks (an essential service-shut up!), medical needs (a.k.a. physical therapy when Zoom doesn’t cut it and the possible emergency dental one for me tomorrow), and stuff that can’t be ordered online. We generally just head to our rooms when we start getting peopled out (which works unless Daniel is feeling needy), and both Mom and Dad go for walks or work in the yard. (I’m sadly allergic to “outside” at the moment. Allergies during a pandemic suck.)
We’ve started eating as a family again. During olden times (a.k.a. before the pandemic), we ate together only on special occasions because we all have our own schedules and needs. These days, Mom or Dad make a “company” dish and we’ll have dinner at the table. I still eat different food from them frequently even though Lent is over and I can eat meat again (part of my diet is for health reasons), but I’ll bring whatever I’m eating to the table and we’ll still eat as a family. Daniel is even coming downstairs to be near us on occasion.
I’ve learned that I can do anything for six weeks. Life will not be “normal” again ever because we are in a new place due to coronavirus, but we’ll all (as in, all of humanity) adjust to a new “normal”. Yes, it’s going to be inconvenient for the people who benefitted from the less good parts of the old “normal”, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. We have an opportunity to create a better situation, and I’m all in.
Part of me *REALLY* wants to lambast the idiotic COVID-19 protests that have been taking place all over the country with people failing to practice social distancing, not wearing masks, and carrying around assault weapons. (Do you want COVID-19? Because that’s how you get COVID-19. That last thing also makes you look like terrorists, y’all. Just sayin’.) However, that would not be good reading, and I’ve used up my allotted anger energy for the day on my cranky child who is walking into my room and messing with various things on my desk. (It’s the point in the day when his ADHD meds are wearing off, and I can’t give him his night meds for another half hour. Kiddo is also working through a bowel blockage and we’re tweaking his autism meds, so he’s extra foul.)
So… here’s a list of things I’m going to do once all of the lockdown measures are (responsibly) lifted.
Send my kid to school. I have never wanted to homeschool, and it has been an exercise in frustration for both of us because he doesn’t want to learn at home. Learning happens at school… and he takes a bus there, so what the fur?!?!?!? (Autistic kids thrive on routine, and my kiddo’s routine got severely messed up when schools were closed.
Have a family gathering to celebrate my 40th birthday… and probably my nephew’s 2nd birthday. We do get to Facebook video chat with them on Saturday afternoons, but it isn’t the same as chasing him around the downstairs, having tickle fights with him, and playing “5 Little Monkeys” with him.
Here in Washington, we are under a shelter-in-place order until Holy Week, and it will likely get extended until the COVID-19 situation is resolved. (45’s plan to reopen things for Easter isn’t going to happen in these parts. Even if things did, I’m not resuming a normal life until *ACTUAL* epidemiologists recommend it, not a failed businessman and reality star.) I was already under a more restrictive shelter-in-place than existed before the one in Washington went into effect, so this was nothing new. Since I could probably enumerate the ways this situation stinks, I thought I would turn that on its head and talk about some *GOOD* things that are coming of this.
I’m developing an entirely new skill set. I had used Zoom twice before March 11th when I had to suddenly become a power user for work. I had never done a live post on Facebook until March 15th. I am now teaching people how to use both, and I am contributing to putting my church’s worship service online from home. (I had to make the decision not to be there in person to record last Saturday, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it was a struggle to make the decision and I cried my eyes out because it was *ONE MORE* life-giving thing being taken away from me.)
This Sunday, I get to be the “cyber verger” and do all the cueing, embedding, and unmuting when we do worship over Zoom.
I’m rediscovering the beauty of Compline. Our bishop has requested that we not hold corporate worship through Easter (and we are complying because a.) we listen to the bishop, and b.) the shelter-in-place order from Governor Inslee prohibits it), so I asked my priest if I could do Compline on the church Facebook page as a way of creating community and praying together even though we’re physically scattered. He enthusiastically gave me his blessing, so I have been doing it on weeknights at 8:30 p.m. It is my favorite of the Daily Offices in the Book of Common Prayer, so it is been fun to get to do it. I accidentally recorded it on my Facebook wall on Tuesday night, which might not have been a bad thing because one of my college friends from Intervarsity joined me. 🙂
I am getting a lot of reading done. While I do read a lot, it tends to be online things. Being “bored” has meant that I spend a chunk of my day reading on my bed with Minion on the panther trap I have for him. (It’s a quilt that he tends to appropriate from me.) I just finished Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett (finally!!!), and I plan to start another book tonight.
I’m having dinner with my parents more often. We don’t eat together as a family often because my parents and I are usually doing our own thing at night, and Daniel obviously is fed by pump. (We still encourage him to join us at the table for some milk or Cheerios.) We have managed to eat dinner together twice this week, which is nice. Dad was making hamburgers for him and my mom on Sunday, so I joined them with a “tuna burger” as my mom put it. (I am pesco-vegetarian for Lent and Dad has been keeping up a steady supply of tuna for me.) Last night, I made lasagna (because I wanted lasagna, darn it!) and they joined me for that. (I currently have 7 servings of lasagna frozen for me in the chest freezer in the garage so that I can vary my diet a bit.)
I’m blessed with an amazing resource in Daniel’s teacher. Daniel’s teacher is researching every possible classroom management program out there so that all of her kiddos have at least one that works well for them. We are going to be using one called ClassDojo for Daniel as well as Google Classroom because that is what the school district wants to use. I am really thankful that she is so dedicated to her students!
I am not having to hang out in waiting rooms and exam rooms with Daniel. Daniel’s specialists through Seattle Children’s and our pediatrician up here have been willing to do phone appointments so that we don’t have to go there. It isn’t that bad of a trek to Everett where Daniel would have had a G-I appointment last Friday, but it still meant that I did not have to be up at 6 to leave by 7 for Daniel’s x-ray and 8:00 appointment.
I am appreciating Max Lucado’s “Coronavirus Check-in” videos.Max Lucado is one of the few evangelicals that doesn’t make me want to stab things. His books are lovely, and he has been putting out videos almost every day on his YouTube channel and on Facebook where he is checking in, giving a short pep talk, praying for people, and inviting people to submit their prayer requests so that others can pray for them. It’s totally not something normally on my radar, but I came across this video on Facebook and have been sharing it all over the place:
People were ripping Max apart in the comments, but it is a beautiful video because it is so true. God can deal with our frustrations, and Max encourages us to have a meltdown if we need it… but to not stay there and to come back to a place of praise, using parts of the third chapter of Lamentations as an example.